KKR pay for Gambhir’s tactical errors

G Rajaraman

New Delhi: So, how can a team post a mammoth 166 on the board, have Sunil Narine concede just four and a half runs in his spell and still end up on the losing side? How can a team that scored 103 runs in its final 10 overs not carry that momentum into the field when defending that score?

The answer may lie in a combination of things as evident on Saturday night when Delhi Daredevils turned the tables on Kolkata Knight Riders in a dramatic contest, scoring 49 runs in their final 30 deliveries. The left-handed JP Duminy ran riot, picking up 20 runs off compatriot Morne Morkel’s final over to swing his team back in contention.

Morkel does have a reputation of leaking runs under pressure in the slog but KKR captain Gautam Gambhir overlooked that. Piyush Chawla conceded 14 runs, including two sixes off his final nine deliveries. Narine, who bowled all his overs only in the second half of the DD chase, gave away just one run in the penultimate over of the innings during which the batsmen pinched four leg-byes as well.

It also has to do a great deal with the bowlers that a captain employs in a frenzied finish. Truth be told, there are not too many bowlers around who shoulder that responsibility willingly. Having said that, few can question Narine being pencilled in to take on that but the punt on legspinner Chawla for two of the last four overs was fraught with danger.

Curiously, Gambhir himself had spoken a couple of nights earlier of Vinay Kumar being an effective bowler in the death overs. But on Saturday, he seemed to have forgotten that and used the swing bowler upfront for three overs in a row and then got him back for the 12th to finish his quota.

It is a long tournament and Gambhir may not need to work himself up at having backed Chawla to bowl half the final four overs but he would have realised that it is important for a skipper to be consistent with his decision-making, even if much of it is the spur-of-the-moment kind.

DD skipper Dinesh Karthik made some error corrections in team selection bringing in Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jaydev Unadkat in Wayne Parnell and legspinner Rahul Sharma’s place. If Kevin Pietersen remains unavailable for Monday’s game against Chennai Super Kings, they will be tempted to pick Quinton de Kock for Jimmy Neesham.

There is no doubting Neesham’s quality but he has not come to terms with bowling on Asian tracks and has been expensive. Besides, he bats too low in the order to be able to make a telling contribution, unless of course one thinks of a six off Chawla as telling contribution.

The other area of concern for DD is the absence of a spinner who takes wickets and stifles the flow of runs. Shahbaz Nadeem did well to produce an arm ball that castled the well-set and aggressive Manish Pandey but the team will expect their first choice spinner to do better. He has the backing of the coaching staff and Pietersen, who calls him a little star.

For all that, the more one reflects on Saturday’s game and is convinced that Gambhir did not use his attack well. After all, he does have an attack that is rich in variety and quality. Employing them in the right moments may be the key. Perhaps the next time, he will not let Duminy play nearly half of his lead bowler Narine’s deliveries.

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